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We studied changes in the spatial and temporal distribution of the β amyloid precursor protein (APP) of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in experimental ischemic brain injury. Rats with repeated reversible occlusions of one middle cerebral artery showed striking APP reactivity in astrocytic processes in perifocal regions and adjacent white matter. APP reactive dystrophic axons and neurons were also evident in the cortex and hippocampus ipsilateral to the MCA occlusion. Such changes were similarly apparent in animals subjected to partial forebrain ischemia induced by bilateral occlusion of the carotid arteries. Our studies suggest that focal ischemic insults or chronic hypoperfusion leads to increased accumulation or induction of APP in surviving cellular elements that may relate to the processes involved in β amyloid deposition in AD.